It was the sort of day that Liam Clancy would have revelled writing about. Orating about. Singing about.
A grey and moody sky hung over Helvick, complimented by a cutting, wild wind skirting in from the sea that would have left even the hardiest of folk longing for indoors and its many comforts. Company. Family. A high stool. Craic. A guitar. Life and all its many glories.
But Monday was no ordinary day. For Liam Clancy’s stories are now told, his songs are now sung, the guitar and concertina now quietened, the final curtain on the stage of his life now drawn.
“Have ye no homes to go to?” were whimsical words which surely ran through minds in Dungarvan, in his native Carrick-on-Suir and indeed the world over as Liam was laid to rest in An Rinn.
That his was a life well lived was spelled out eloquently by Father Conchúir Ó Ceallaigh, Parish Priest of An Rinn, whose words of tribute would have earned warm palms from Liam himself.
“It has been said that God made Man because he loves stories,” said Fr Ó Ceallaigh during his homily before a packed church.
“And the stories that He told well need great storytellers. And if that be so, then the Lord has called to Himself a great storyteller in Liam Clancy. And in song and verse, we can believe that the Lord is enjoying some wonderful stories now.”
Fr Ó Ceallaigh then shared the first poem he ever learned from Liam with the congregation, words he learned from a Clancy record when just a teenager, the words of French poet Charles Baudelaire.
“One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters; So as not to feel Time’s horrible burden that breaks your shoulders and bows you down, you must get drunk without ceasing. 
“But what with? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you choose. But get drunk. So that you may not be the martyred slave of Time, get drunk, get drunk and never pause for rest. With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you choose.”
Fr Ó Ceallaigh added, to laughter from those assembled: “I’d like to think that Liam wouldn’t be expected a priest to stand up here in front of all of you this morning and say ‘get drunk’.
“But then I don’t think he was speaking about the inebriation that comes from a lot of alcohol so much as he was speaking about the intoxication that comes from being passionately involved with and totally committed to what you were doing.”
Speaking of Liam Clancy’s “joie de vivre, the exuberant spirit of a life lived to the full,” Fr Ó Ceallaigh said that through his music and performing, Liam helped others to share in that same sense of exuberance.
“He brought happiness to so many people that he had to have a reservoir of joy within himself.”
An intelligent man and a deep thinker, Liam Clancy was a man who felt deeply about his family, friends and life in general, Fr Ó Ceallaigh told mourners.
“Such a person reminds us that we can often live our lives in a much too shallow way. Liam would, no doubt (tell us) that life is too wonderful and mysterious to just get through each day by skimming the surface of experience.”
Liam Clancy, a man with a great sense of humour, offered himself to the world as he was, never trying to be anyone other than himself, added Fr Ó Ceallaigh.
“He was sincere and passionate about what he believed was right. He never gave less than his best and he stood up and was counted when it came to things that others might have kept quiet about.
“He lived to the full all the years that were given him and now as he leaves this world behind, he enters into an even bigger story and into a fullness of life that we can only guess at.”
Fr Ó Ceallaigh, sounding a note that many surely shared since last Friday’s sad news from Cork, spoke of Liam Clancy being reunited with his family and friends who had gone before him.
“The great band is together again and the music is fierce and the craic is mighty.”
Among the congregation were many of Liam’s colleagues from the world of music, including Paddy Reilly, Finbar and Eddie Furey, Liam Ó Maonlaí and Darren Holden, who performs with Liam’s nephew Finbarr in The High Kings.
Also present were ‘Yellow Bittern’ director Alan Gilsenan, broadcaster Sean Bán Breathnach and Donncha Gough of traditional group Danú.
Minister for Arts, Tourism and Sport Martin Cullen represented the Government at the Funeral Mass, while Deputy John Deasy, Dungarvan Mayor Damien Geoghegan and Councillors from Dungarvan and Carrick Town Councils were also present.
President McAleese was represented by Aide de Camp Captain Brian Walsh while the Taoiseach Mr Cowen was represented by Aide de Camp Commandant Michael Treacy.
Fr Ó Ceallaigh was joined in the celebration of the Requiem Mass by Fathers William Ryan, Paul Waldron, Richard Geoghegan, Milo Guiry, Brendan Crowley, John Kiely, Seamus Humphries OSA, Paddy Creed and Flor O’Callaghan.
The ceremony began with music from Kevin Evans and Paul Grant, who performed a medley of tunes made famous by Liam Clancy.
Son-in-law Cárthach MacCraith sang ‘Ag Chríost an Síol’ and ‘Ár nAthair’, while his son Dónal played the traditional farewell lament, ‘Mo Ghile Mear’, which the congregation spontaneously began to hum before breaking into heartfelt, dignified song.
During the bi-lingual ceremony, Liam’s coffin was adorned by his concertina and corduroy cap, a photo of him performing and a copy of the collected poems of William Butler Yeats, its spine held intact by Sellotape.
As Liam Clancy’s remains were lowered into the earth in An Rinn, a rainbow shot across the sky, while the air was filled with the strains of ‘Will Ye Go Lassie Go’ and ‘The Parting Glass’.
Liam Clancy, the youngest of 11 siblings, was born in William Street, Carrick-on-Suir on September 2nd 1935, son of Robert Joseph Clancy and Joanna McGrath.
He is survived by his wife Kim, their four children Fiona and Siobhán, Eben and Dónal, daughter Anya (from a previous relationship), sisters Joan and Peg along with his eight grandchildren.